Fla. K-9 handler facing cruelty charges
By David Ovalle
The Miami Herald.com
Related: Miami K-9 may have been starved to death
MIAMI — Miami Officer Rondal Brown, suspected of allowing his police dog to starve to death, will surrender Monday morning to face criminal charges.
Brown, a popular veteran K-9 handler, had been relieved of duty as police internal affairs detectives and prosecutors probed the death of Dynasty, a 4-year-old bloodhound that specialized in finding missing persons.
When the dog was taken to the veterinarian in January 2007, she weighed more than 60 pounds. When she died in November, she weighed 33 pounds, investigators believe.
The Miami-Dade state attorney's office declined to comment.
Brown, 48, will face charges of cruelty to animals and an offense against a police dog, both third-degree felonies.
"Any and all false allegations or charges which may be lodged against Officer Ron Brown will be vigorously defended and refuted,'' his attorney, William Matthewman, said Sunday. "It is utter nonsense for anyone to claim that Officer Brown intentionally harmed or killed his police dog, Dynasty. Officer Brown was devastated by the death of Dynasty and continues to grieve for Dynasty."
Brown will be the second K-9 officer in Miami-Dade County to be charged with the death of his dog partner. Both cases are considered rare.
Miami-Dade Sgt. Allen Cockfield was arrested last year after authorities say he fatally kicked his German shepherd, Duke. Cockfield pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial on charges of animal cruelty and killing a police dog, a third-degree felony.
Brown was hired by Miami police in 1987 and has spent most of his two decades working with police dogs. He is married to Florence Edwards Brown, a Broward County sheriff's deputy.
His personnel file contains no major allegations of misconduct. He boasts more than 30 letters of commendation. In a recent evaluation, a superior wrote:
"Officer Brown maintains a bloodhound in top condition, ready to respond to person searches for children and elderly missing persons,'' and, "K-9 work is dirty. Officer Brown maintains a professional appearance at all times.''
Before he came under investigation, Brown had been on desk duty because of heart problems.
Dynasty was donated to the department in 2004 by a foundation created to honor slain 9-year-old Jimmy Ryce.
Kidnapped and murdered in 1995, Jimmy had been the subject of an intense police manhunt. The Jimmy Ryce Foundation believes bloodhounds might have helped find the boy sooner.
With extremely sensitive noses and droopy skin and ears that sweep the ground to kick up scents, bloodhounds offer police departments unique weapons to find missing persons.
Dynasty's breeder, Pam Andrews, told The Miami Herald last month that the extremely loyal bloodhounds will often stop eating if their handler is not around.
"Bloodhounds love humans. They want to be with people to the death. They [do searches] for no other reason than to please the handler,'' Andrews said.
Copyright 2008 The Miami Herald